Wednesday, January 17, 2018
News Roundup

Planned Parenthood, ice sculptors want to book Tampa parks for RNC

TAMPA — Two more groups — Planned Parenthood and artists who create ice sculptures with a message — have applied for city permits to use Tampa parks during the Republican National Convention.

Planned Parenthood wants a permit for a four-hour rally on the afternoon of Aug. 29 at Plant Park, next to the University of Tampa.

That park, however, is controlled by the university, which has plans of its own during the convention, so officials say Planned Parenthood will have to look for another park.

The other application came from a husband-and-wife team of Brooklyn artists, Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese.

They propose to use a ton of ice to create a 20- or 25-foot-long, 5-foot-tall sculpture of the words, "Middle Class," which would then melt in the August sun.

The couple plans to do the same kind of sculpture at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

"The effects of the Great Recession on the middle class are very severe, and we're hoping to focus attention on how both parties' policies affect the middle class and the working class," Reese said.

They made similar sculptures of the word "Democracy" at both national political conventions in 2008 and installed a sculpture of the word "Economy" near Wall Street on the 2008 anniversary of the stock market crash of 1929.

"It had a pretty profound effect on people and we think this will also, to see the words 'Middle class' disappear," Reese said.

Ligorano and Reese proposed to install the sculpture late on the morning of Aug. 27, the first day of the convention. They requested downtown's MacDill Park, but Reese said they're also exploring other locations.

Monday is the application deadline for public gathering permits for groups of 50 or more people in city parks during the convention. Groups of 49 or fewer do not require a permit.

If there is more than one application for the same park on the same day, locations will be assigned in a lottery scheduled for June 15.

After that, parks will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

The city has a dozen parks available for events during the convention. They range in size from the Herman C. Massey and Washington Street parks, each smaller than half an acre, to Macfarlane Park (30 acres), Picnic Island Park (96 acres) and Al Lopez Park (132 acres). Officials are holding Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park for spontaneously organized events.

The RNC park event permits will be nonexclusive, meaning that members of the public will be allowed to come to the park during a permitted rally or demonstration as long as they don't disrupt the event.

City Attorney James Shimberg Jr. said the public will not have the same access to parks, such as Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, during private events held by the RNC. Under the terms of its contract with the city, the convention has first dibs on Curtis Hixon and several other downtown parks for social events during the convention.

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